Three of Strong is in the alcohol-heavy East Bayside neighborhood. Photos by Angie Bryan

Located in East Bayside, rum distillery Three of Strong Spirits opened in August and has already become so popular that it filled up within half an hour of opening when I visited in February. I can see why.

Open, airy and welcoming, the converted warehouse has a bar with comfortable stools with backs (and both purse hooks and electrical outlets under the bar), as well as several tables and chairs. In the distillery itself is a shuffleboard area with a laminated set of rules so that beginners can participate. One corner sells distillery merchandise (including, of course, bottle of rum); another has stacks of games. When the weather cooperates, there’s outdoor seating on the deck.

Straight up in flights or mixed into cocktails, it’s all rum, all the time at Three of Strong Spirits.

My friends and I settled in and examined the menu. When I saw that a flight of three rums was $5, I knew what I was having for my aperitif. There’s also a daily rum punch for $8 and eight rum cocktails for $10-$12. My drinking companions ordered the Mai Pie (rum, apple, five spice, a spiced Caribbean syrup called falernum, citrus and mint) and the daily punch, which came garnished with a marigold; I ordered the Bitter Birdy (coincidentally, how I describe myself on my Tinder profile), the listed ingredients for which included rum, bark, spice, bitters, pineapple, lime and shade. How could I resist? We enjoyed all three drinks as well as the flight, with our favorite rum being the 12-year Parchando.

Three of Strong also has a small snack menu. We ordered the $4 popcorn which was nice and fresh. Other options include a $12 cheese board, a $10 meat board, a $6 hummus plate and $5 chips and dip. The music was at a decent volume, and everybody in the bar seemed to be having a genuinely good time. We certainly were.

Cofounder Dave McConnell, who worked as a lawyer until he decided to switch gears, happened to be there during our visit, as was tasting room manager and beverage director Crystal Pomerleau, formerly of Central Provisions (Sam Pierce is the other co-founder.). Their knowledge and enthusiasm were evident. Three of Strong uses water from Sebago Lake for its rums; its aged rums come from a family distillery in Colombia that shares its practice of avoiding any artificial flavorings or colorings.

I was particularly excited to learn about some of the special events at the distillery. The first Thursday of each month, for example, is History Night, featuring an informal talk about some aspect of Maine and/or drinking history. The admission fee, which varies, includes a themed cocktail and a donation to the nonprofit of the speaker’s choice. In May, the focus will be on popular tavern games in 18th- and 19th-century Maine. Other events include cocktail classes, master distiller’s tours and tastings, canvases and cocktails, a shuffleboard league and more.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.


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